Book review…

STRAIGHTENING my bookshelf recently — okay, that’s not an all-too-frequent event — I came across a booklet that I picked up a couple years back in the Patagonia adventure equipment shop in Sydney. I took a copy not because it was free but because between its covers were instructions for fixing the common mishaps to outdoor clothing which we encounter in the mountains, on the coasts and even in the city.

Clothing comes in for a lot of wear and tear in the mountains. Scrapes on rough rock, tears, malfunctioning zips. We use useful repair tools like gaff tape to…

Question for permaculture practitioners…

An application for approval of genetically modified wheat raises the question of permaculture practitioners’ attitude towards the technology.

HOW WOULD you react to being offered a sandwick made of bread that was genetically modified (GM)?

It’s not a hypothetical question because GM bread might appear in our shops now that an application to grow and market a GM wheat is before Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

Peter Bowditch (Skeptics in Australia): “As bread is made from wheat with a mixture of chromosomes from different plants, I’d say that people have been eating GM bread for several millennia.”

What does the application for genetically modified wheat include?

Application A1232 was logged by Food Standards Australia New Zealand on 8 June 2021. …

Stops along the road…

Lunch stop at Lake Leake.

LAKE LEAKE is no metropolis. What it is, is a dam with a large catchment lake amid the forested hills, and a shack settlement. There’s a basic campsite with a basic charge — see the caretaker as you drive in. Down the road is a hotel of sorts. The main activity of people who own the shacks is trout fishing in the lake. You need the equipment and a (state government) permit to do that.

The campsite is small. There’s a bench seat and table with shelter and a toilet block. No shops here. No shops anywhere near here, so…

MEDIA WORKERS are being targeted by anti-vaxx forces in France, the UK and the USA.

Written for journalists covering war and other high-risk environments, the book might have some precautionary advice for those covering increasingly-risky demonstrations in Western countries.

Just this month:

  • the BBC reported that its journalists have been verbally and physically attacked in the UK
  • across the Channel in France, where demonstrations continued into their third week against plans for a vaccination passport to enter trains, restaurants and museums, anti-vaxxers stormed vaccination centres and journalists were physically attacked; some demonstrators were reported as carrying anti-Semitic placards and are now being investigated by police
  • in the US, two journalists and another man were stabbed while covering an anti-vaxx demonstration in which many of…

Book review…

A review of Catrina Davies’ book in which I highlight parallels with the Australian experience.

Why do I find affinity with what Catrina Davies writes in her biographical Homesick-Why I Live in a Shed?

That was the question that bothered me when I started to read her book. Was it because I have lived in a shack? Okay, the shack was more comfortable than Catrina’s shed but far from what many would consider to be comfortable.

Was it because she had not long ago come from living in a van while travelling from Norway to Portugal, where I had come off the good part of a year traveling in a minivan along Australia’s south-east coast?

Our story-understanding our design system…

A new book shines a light into permaculture’s dark corners


Having read the pre-publication copy of Terry Leahy’s book, The Politics of Permaculture, I set out to write a straight review. That didn’t work. As I read the book I kept finding overlaps with my own thinking on the topic and I wandered off on side trips exploring what he writes about. Finally I gave up on writing a straightforward review. Something longer was required, so I decided to write a combined review and commentary.

Writing from the pre-publication edition, it is possible that the published edition might differ in minor points. However, the pre-publication edition encapsulates the essence of…

A GROUP REPRESENTING European agricultural and research practitioners have launched a petition in the science journal, Nature, to stop Italian draft law DDL988 which “would put biodynamic farming on the same legal footing as organic farming — the latter based on solid scientific evidence.”

The Nature item describes biodynamic farming as “a practice that invokes cosmic forces to improve soil quality.” It goes on to say that “government economic policy should not be shaped by esoteric astrological principles. …

Reflections on our life on the road in 2019 and into 2020.

Lunchtime, Anvil Falls, Blue Mountains NSW.

The rain comes with first light. Not a heavy rain, more a medium fall that patters on the roof. Consistent. It’s accompanied by a short-lived wind strong enough to buffet the van.

It’s early summer and we’ve been living in our minivan here in the caravan park by the beach for some time now.

The camp kitchen is the convivial space. It’s here as we cook and eat that we talk with people living at the caravan park, with people we’ve already met and those who are new. The backpackers, most of them here to pick fruit, keep to themselves…

Originally published in July 2009

This is a manual on the southern Africa implementation of ideas in the permaculture design system. It is a reality-based volume reporting what has been done and what could be. For practitioners of international development , Terry Leahy’s book is a must-read.

BILL. MOLLISON’S Permaculture — A Designer’s Manual covers the broad sweep of the permaculture design system. So does his Introduction To Permaculture, though at a more basic level. The same goes for Rosemary Morrows books on permaculture, and Ross Mars’. Ian Lillington’s The Holistic Life takes a finer-grain view as he applies permaculture design to his family home…

Horse Camp Hut. Basic bush accommodation in the Snowy Mountains.

THE DOOR opens. We look up.

There are maybe eight of them, scouts in their teens years led by an adult. We can see they are cold and glad to get out of the weather. They look wet and bedraggled. They mill around, pulling sleeping bags and food from packs.

A strong wind slanted a cold rain across the high country that afternoon, a rain that varied from light to heavy. We had been further out on the ranges, out towards Jugungal. Our plan was to overnight here at Horse Camp Hut before walking out.

The hut was built in…

Russ Grayson

I'm an independent online and photojournalist living on the Tasmanian coast after nine months on the road in a minivan.

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